The news from the Android Developer Conference
November 11, 2011 —
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When developers from around the world gathered in San Francisco this week to worship at the altar of Android (Google's mobile operating system), they heard speakers discuss ways applications can save battery life, how clothing can be integrated with software, and how to build better interfaces.
The conference kicked off with keynotes from American Express and Motorola, but all hands were present Tuesday for the Google keynote, given by Romain Guy and Chet Haase, both senior software engineers at Google.
Their keynote showed off a myriad of new features of Android 4.0, codenamed "Ice Cream Sandwich" (ICS). The pair said there are dozens of new APIs in Android 4.0, though existing APIs will always remain in the platform to ensure backward compatibility.
There are hundreds of changes to the interface and standard applications in ICS, said Guy and Haase. Many of these changes are refinements or fixes to previous behaviors. Others are designed to improve the overall mobile Internet experience.
One such change comes to the Android Web browser, said Guy. “There are many websites I go to on my phone, and I hate it when they give me the mobile version of the website. We have a feature where you can request a desktop version of the website. We have better tabs UI so you can see up to 16 tabs, and you can synchronize your bookmarks with Chrome if you use that on your desktop.”
For developers, there are new ways to build GUIs and new features in the underlying toolkit. Said Guy: “We now have TextureView. It's a replacement for SurfaceView, and it addresses some of the limitations of SurfaceView. We have hardware graphics acceleration on by default; we added stylus and mouse input, also. And we now have a pluggable dictionary and spell-checker.
"The goal is to make complex layouts easier. Before, you'd have a couple layouts: one for vertical, one for horizontal, one for tablets. Instead, you can now just have a single grid layout; there's no nesting."